Poultry Care Incidents

As part of our pledge "to be transparent in our programs, goal and progresses," we committed to share key animal care metrics, openly criticize ourselves when appropriate, and honestly and respectfully answer those who constructively criticize us.

As part of that, we are publicly documenting positive and negative incidents and reporting on the actions taken as part of our journey of continuous improvement.

Reported Incident Response

August 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Dillon, S.C., operation identified an associate placing more than one bird in a shackle when the line was stopped. He did remove the birds before the line started again.

Associate was issued a written warning and retrained on poultry welfare.

August 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Perry, Ga., harvest operation identified a dump operator who failed to remove a loose bird from the platform prior to advancing to the next cage.

The operator was terminated.

August 2019: Business Unit Leader at our Dillon, S.C., operation recognized his receiving department for continually having the best scores in the company as it relates to third-party monitoring.

Forty associates participated in a recognition lunch.

August 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Accomac, Va., plant identified an associate doing a great job putting birds back into the shackles.

The associates and his team were treated to pizza.

August 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Cromwell, Ky., operation identified an associate doing a great job collecting birds on the floor.

August 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Perry, Ga., harvest operation identified a cage dump operator who failed to remove a bird from the path of an oncoming cage.

Associate was coached and retrained on proper cage dump procedures.

August 2019: Management at our Salisbury, Md., harvest operation witnessed an associate mishandling live birds.

The associate was terminated.

July 2019: Third-partying monitoring at our Georgetown, Del., observed a live haul crew member mishandling birds.

The entire crew was retrained, and the crew leader was coached.

July 2019: A third-party catch crew member working at our Perry, Ga., harvest operation was observed mishandling live birds while loading them into a cage.

The third-party company fired the worker and retrained their other crew members.

July 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Rockingham, N,C., harvest plant identified an associate using improper technique to remove a bird from a cage.

Associate was retrained.

June 2019: Management at our Cromwell, Ky., harvest operation witnessed an associate mishandling live birds.

All associates were retrained. Observed associate was suspended for three days.

June 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Milford, Del., harvest plant identified an associate mistreating live birds.

Associate was terminated.

June 2019: Management at our Accomac, Va., harvest operation witnessed via video monitoring an associate mishandling a bird.

Associate was shown the video and suspended for three days.

May 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Perry, Ga., harvest plant identified a cage-dump operator who struck a bird, which was not injured.

Associate was issued a written warning and retrained.

May 2019: Through third-partying monitoring, an associate at the Rockingham, N.C., plant was seen pushing a bird with a cage instead of retrieving it by hand.

Associate was shown video and suspended for three days.

May 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Cromwell, Ky., harvest plant identified a dump operator moving birds with a module.

Associate was issued a written warning and retrained.

May 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Perry, Ga., harvest plant showed an associate who failed to ensure cage was clear underneath, resulting in a bird being crushed.

Associate was issued a written warning and retrained.

May 2019: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at the Rockingham, N.C., harvest plant hanging birds with one hand and throwing them in the shackle.

Associate was suspended. All department associates were retrained

May 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Mount Vernon, Wash., harvest plant identified an associate doing a great job inspecting cages for any remaining birds.

Management provided pizza for the team.

May 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Dillon, S.C., harvest plant identified two associates doing a great job on the live hang line.

Associates were recognized.

April 2019: An associate identified in third-party monitoring at the Perry, Ga., harvest plant failed to remove three birds that fell under the cage prior to lowering the cage and the birds were crushed.

Associate was issued a written warning and removed from the position.

April 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Perry, Ga., harvest plant identified an operator failing to retrieve a loose bird on the platform before advancing to the next cage.

Associate was issued a written warning and removed from the position.

April 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Georgetown, Del., harvest plant showed an associate properly catching birds and placing them in the shackle.

Management provided associate lunch.

April 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Georgetown, Del., harvest plant showed live hangers doing a good job getting loose birds off the floor and handling them correctly.

Management provided associates lunch.

March 2019: An associate at the Perry, Ga., harvest plant was observed via third-party monitoring swinging a bird with one hand that he retrieved from the dump system.

Associate was suspended.

March 2019: Third-party monitoring observed an associate at the Georgetown, Del., harvest plant shackling birds with one hand and throwing birds.

All department associates were retrained. Observed associate was suspended for three days.

March 2019: Third-party monitoring at the Accomac, Va., harvest plant identified one associate mishandling a bird while removing it from the shackle and another associate shackling a bird with one hand.

Associates were retrained and suspended three days.

March 2019: Third-party monitoring identified two associates at the Salisbury, Md., harvest plant punching, pushing and mishandling birds on the live hang line.

Associates were retrained, disciplined and suspended.

February 2019: Third-party monitoring identified at our Lewiston, N.C., harvest plant a bird was left on the line after the shift and a sanitation associate sprayed it with a water hose.

All sanitation associates have been retraining on proper procedure as well as those responsible for walking the area to ensure no birds are left following the shift.

February 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Rockingham, N.C., harvest plant identified a cage dump associate attempting to scare a bird onto the cage dump belt using hand jesters then a moving cage.

Associate was coached and instructed to walk out on platform after applying all safety measures and move the bird carefully by hand as required. He was also issued a written warning.

February 2019: At our Perry, Ga., harvest plant, third-party monitoring identified an associate struggling with dumping a cage with a stuck door. In re-positioning the cage, he allowed multiple birds to be caught between the cage and the dumper, injuring four to five birds.

Associate was retrained and issued a written disciplinary warning. All dump operators were retrained.

February 2019: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at our Dillon, S.C., harvest plant sliding and throwing birds down the line.

Associates was retrained and issue a written disciplinary warning.

January 2019: Third-party monitoring at our Dillon, S.C., harvest plant identified an associate using his foot to move a bird on the conveyor instead of picking it up by the leg as required.

The associate was retrained an issued a written disciplinary warning.

December 2018 - February 2019: Third-party video monitoring at harvest plants in Perry, Ga., Cromwell, Ky., and Rockingham, N.C., identified five incidents of associates using a "catch hook" or pole to remove chickens from transport modules.

Associates were trained on proper bird-handling procedures. All associates were issued written disciplinary warnings and one was suspended for three days.

December 2018: Third-party monitoring identified live hang associates at our Perry, Ga., harvest plant doing a great job keeping line full and handling birds correctly.

Team was recognized.

December 2018: Third-party monitoring identified a forklift driver at our Perry, Ga., harvest plant closing a cage door with his forks and one bird fell to the ground.

All fork lift operators were shown the video and retrained. Operator was given a coaching write up in his file.

December 2018: An Eastern Shore farmer notified us that he observed a live haul crew member kick chickens in his poultry house.

Third-party live haul company was contacted and the farmer was interviewed. The individual was not able to be identified so the entire crew was retrained and the event was documented.

December 2018: Third-party monitoring at our Salisbury, Md., harvest plant identified a bird was left after completion of shift and a sanitation associate did not follow standard operating procedure, hitting a bird with water during wash down.

Night shift receiving associates and management were coached on removing all birds after shift is over. Incident was reviewed with the sanitation company on how birds are to handled.

December 2018: Third-party monitoring identified a Salisbury, Md., harvest plant associate hanging birds with one hand, flipping birds in the trays and then standing on the line.

Associate was shown the video and coached on proper bird-hanging technique. He received a written warning, which was placed in his personnel file.

December 2018: At our Rockingham, N.C., harvest plant, an associate was identified operating the cage dump while on a cell phone and hit a bird with a cage.

Associate was coached and a written disciplinary warning was put in his file.

December 2018: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at our Perry, Ga., harvest plant who didn't check the conveyor before moving next cage and it ran into a chicken.

Associate was coached and given a written disciplinary warning that was put into his file.

November 2018: Third-party monitoring identified a sanitation associate at our Perry, Ga., harvest plant in the DOA area with a bird that was left after the production shift. The associate was observed taking the bird by the feet and throwing it to the ground to euthanize it.

The associate was terminated and the rest of the sanitation crew was retrained on proper procedures.

November 2018: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at our Salisbury, Md., harvest plant toss a bird on the floor.

The asssociate was coached on proper bird-handling procedures.

November 2018: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at our Perry, Ga., harvest plant doing a great job to ensure both kill lines were full, birds were properly shackled and handled with birds.

The associate was recognized with a free meal ticket.

November 2018: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at our Milford, Del., harvest plant aggressively hanging birds with one hand.

Associate was retrained and suspended for three days.

November 2018: An Eastern North Carolina breeder farmer observed a live haul crew member aggressively remove birds from the nests.

Contract crew was retrained on proper bird handling.

November 2018: Third-party monitoring at our Milford, Del., harvest plant identified an associate aggressively pushing birds on the hanging belt.

The entire live hang team was coached.

October 2018: An associate at our Lewiston, N.C., harvest plant was observed tossing birds in shackles three times.

The associate was terminated.

October 2018: At our Perry, Ga., harvest plant, an associate used extreme care to get birds back in a module on the conveyor system after the module became stuck and several birds dropped on the conveyor.

Associate was recognized for doing the right thing and received a free meal ticket for his actions.

October 2018: A lightning strike at a Western North Carolina breeder farm knock out the poultry house ventilation system. The farmer was notified by the alarm company multiple times, but did not respond or visit the house to the next day.

Because of farmer neglect, the flock was lost and the farmer's contract was terminated. 

October 2018: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at our Milford, Del., harvest plant aggressively free a bird from a module and move it to another module.

Associate was suspended three days.

October 2018: A Business Unit Leader at our Rockingham, N.C., harvest plant observed on video a live hang associate get into a verbal altercation with another associate and then swing a bird at him, hitting him in the face.

The associate was terminated.

October 2018: A high number of mortality was observed on a truck at our Rockingham, N.C., harvest plant. 

New SOP was developed for Rockingham and shared with all harvest plants and Perdue animal care council.

October 2018: Third-party monitoring identified associates at our Dillon, S.C., harvest plant safely handling birds to ensure second harvest line was full when first line went down. They safely passed birds from one line to the next.

Associates were recognized for their attention to animal welfare.

October 2018: During a routine visit to a Kentucky farm, our flock advisor observed birds crowded in the feed pans without access to feed and water for an extended period.

Farmer received poultry welfare training and was advised that further violation of Perdue's welfare standards would result in termination of the Poultry Producer Agreement.

September 2018: Third-party monitoring identified an associate at our Perry, Ga., harvest plant unloading cages from a trailer while operating forklift too fast. One of the cage doors opened and several chickens were ejected, one being crushed by the forklift.

Associate was retrained and tested in forklift operations before he could drive again.

September 2018-November 2018: Third-party video monitoring at harvest plants in Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia identified five associates using a module to move a bird on the conveyor system.

Associates received disciplinary action and were retrained.

September 2018-November 2018: Third-party video monitoring at harvest plants in Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington identified 20 incidents of associates using a "catch hook" or pole to remove chickens from transport modules.

Associates were trained on proper bird-handing procedures. Two associates were suspended for three days. Poles were removed from the processes.

September 2018: Third-party monitoring at our Georgetown, Del., plant identified two associates doing a nice job retrieving a bird that had fallen on the floor back on the line with care.

Associates were recognized and given gift certificates.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our South Carolina harvest plant identified outstanding performance two days in a row by one our associates responsible for transferring live chickens to the processing line.

Associate’s efforts were recognized by the plant management.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring revealed outstanding performance handling live chickens by one of our Georgia harvest plant associates.

The good job was documented, and the associate received a free meal in the cafeteria.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Virginia harvest plant recorded improper euthanasia by an associate who did not receive proper training.

The associate was given proper training. The associate’s supervisor and line leader were issued written disciplinary action and also retrained on proper euthanasia procedure.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Kentucky harvest plant revealed exceptional bird handling by a crew transferring chickens to the processing line.

The crew was rewarded with a catered lunch.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring recorded an associate at one of our North Carolina harvest plants using a long pole to help him move chickens.

All poles have been removed and plant is ensuring all birds are handled according to our SOP.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring revealed an associate at our Kentucky harvest plant exercising extreme care in removing birds that remained in a transport module.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring at one of our Delaware harvest plants recorded an associate not following proper procedures while transferring chickens to the processing line.

Associate was given a written warning for a first offense, and a training session was completed for both shifts.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring at one of North Carolina harvest plants revealed an associate not following proper procedure in moving a chicken on a conveyor.

Associate was given a written warning and all associates performing the same job at that location were retrained using the video.

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring identified an associate at our Georgia harvest plant doing a very good job in the area of the plant where birds are transferred to the processing line.

Associate was recognized and rewarded with a free meal in the cafeteria. 

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our South Carolina harvest plant revealed associates working together to minimize stress and possible injury to chickens when a transport module became stuck on a conveyor. 

August 2018: Third-party video monitoring at one of our North Carolina harvest plants recorded an associate exhibiting exceptional effort to ensure chickens were properly positioned on the processing line.

Associate was recognized and rewarded with a free meal in the cafeteria.  

July 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Georgia harvest plant recorded an associate improperly transferring a chicken from a transport module to a chute.

Associate was provided documented training.

July 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Georgia harvest plant captured an associate using a “catch hook” to remove chickens from transport modules.

Associate was given a written warning.

July 2018: A farmer associated with our South Carolina operations observed a flock advisor not following proper guidelines while weighing chickens.

The flock advisor was trained and coached. It was also determined that the root cause was in the height of the scales. All scales were checked and the importance of ensuring proper height was communicated through the company.

July 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Kentucky harvest plant recorded an associate improperly moving a chicken that had gotten loose from a transport module, resulting in injury to the bird.

The associate was terminated and the department was retrained using the video.

July 2018: A farmer associated with our Florida breeder operations recognized a catching crew for doing a very good job.

July 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Georgia harvest plant recorded an associate handling a bird in a manner that could have injured the chicken.

We determined the associate, who was new to the area, received Poultry Care Training but was not properly trained on the specifics of the job. We will work to ensure all animal care job specifics are covered with associates in new roles.

June 2018: A farmer contracted to one of our North Carolina breeder operations complimented a catching crew and asked to have the same crew sent back next time.

June 2018: Third-party video monitoring recorded a contract sanitation crew employee handling a live chicken that had gotten loose in live receiving.

The plant coached the third-party sanitation company on our SOP for finding a live chicken after production hours. We reviewed and redistributed our SOP to all plants.

June 2018: One of our North Carolina farmers called to report an employee of a third-party catching crew operating a forklift erratically and endangering birds.

The third-party vendor removed the driver from the forklift and replaced him with another driver. Perdue thanked the farmer for reporting the incident.

June 2018: Plant associates monitoring video at our Kentucky harvest plant noticed a temporary labor person improperly transferring chickens to the processing line.  

The associate was shown video monitoring of his actions and his employment was terminated.

June 2018: Third-party video monitoring at one of our North Carolina harvest plants recorded an associate tossing a bird onto a conveyor.

The associate was shown the video and terminated. The video was also used to reinforce training for management and associates.  

June 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Georgia harvest plant recorded an associate pushing a loose bird into a transfer chute instead of placing the bird on the chute.

The associate was shown the video and coached on proper procedures. Associate also received a written disciplinary action.

June 2018: A truck carrying live chickens overturned in Delaware. Our Poultry Care Officers responded. However, after they left the scene, an injured chicken was found in the high grass. This is unacceptable.

The incident was reviewed by local management and discussed with associates who were on the scene. Our accident SOP was reviewed and updated, and all Poultry Care Officers have been retrained. Our goal is zero accidents; when they do occur we need to ensure proper care for all the birds.

June 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our South Carolina harvest plant recorded an associate istepping off the line while continuing to hold a live bird by its feet.

The associate was shown the video and immediately realized what he did was wrong. He was coached and suspended for three days.

May 2018: A forklift carrying transport modules at our Virginia harvest plant clipped the livehaul trailer, causing some of the transport module doors to open, allowing birds to drop out.

Forklift driver was retrained on safe forklift operation and the issue was documented in associate’s file.

May 2018: Third-party video monitoring at one of our Delaware plants recorded an associate intentionally bumping a loose bird on a conveyor.

Associate was reminded this will not be tolerated and suspended for three days.

May 2018: Third-party video monitoring revealed associates not properly transferring birds to the processing line, which contributed to other associates rushing and not following proper bird handling. 

Supervisor met with each associate and reviewed the video. Associates were retrained and proper procedures were reviewed in a team meeting.

May 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Kentucky harvest plant showed an associate attempting to run a module down a conveyor belt to move a loose bird, rather than retrieving the bird by hand.

Associate was suspended for three days and the team was re-educated on proper procedures.

May 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Kentucky harvest plant recorded birds mishandled by an associate while being transferred to the processing line. The appearance is that he throws it in the shackle.

Associate was shown video and counseled on the mishandling of the birds. Associate was suspended for three days.

April 2018: Third-party video monitoring of the live receiving area at our Dillon, South Carolina, recorded an associate improperly retrieving a bird that had gotten loose.

The associate was suspended for three days.

April 2018: An individual reported to us that two associates accompanying a chick display at an outdoor agricultural education event for school children failed to provide proper conditions to keep the chicks comfortable in unexpected cold weather, and did not properly respond to attendees who expressed concern for the welfare of the chickens.

Associates were counseled on how the situation should have been handled. As a result, we are developing standards to ensure the comfort and welfare of chickens displayed at educational and agricultural events. We attempted to contact the community member who reported this to express our appreciation and reassure her that we will prevent this from happening in the future.

April 2018: Under cover video footage supplied to us by an animal rights group revealed welfare concerns at two company-owned ranches at our Petaluma Poultry operation in California, which occurred several months ago. This included failures to properly cull birds that could not thrive.

  • Members of leadership team visited both ranches check on flocks to ensure proper care.
  • Associates at both locations were retrained, and an investigation is underway.
  • Video was submitted to an outside panel of animal welfare experts for review.
  • We are using this to further improve education and processes throughout the company.
    • Developing a training program for all live associates on processes for managing chickens that will not thrive and how we should respond. This includes discussions with farmers to understand effective processes.
    • We are reviewing how we educate and communicate around our toll-free, anonymous hotline for reporting animal care incidents.
    • We plan to use our own unannounced video recordings to capture good and bad practices as a training tool for live production. 

March 2018: Third-party video monitoring of the live receiving area at our Dillon, South Carolina, plant captured a single incident of an associate not properly handling a live bird.

The associate was verbally coached on the incident and retrained, and given a written warning.

March 2018: Third-party video monitoring of the live receiving area at our Cromwell, Kentucky, plant identified a failure to follow our animal welfare processes when an associate from another department was assigned to assist during a short-staffing situation. The associate was not properly trained.

Going forward, we will ensure that any associate assigned to handle live birds in a short-staffing situation is first trained in all our animal welfare practices by the shift leader, with documentation of training.

February 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Cromwell, KY, harvest plant recorded an associate not following proper procedures for handling live birds.  

Associate was disciplined with a write-up and shown the video as part of retraining.

February 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Rockingham, N.C., harvest plant observed an associate aggressively handling birds.  

  • Associate was disciplined with a write-up and entire department reviewed proper procedures.
  • Manager received documented coaching.

February 2018: In the above incident, third-party video monitoring also documented as associate’s intervention to help address the issue.

Associate was recognized by management.

February 2018: A farmer in North Carolina reported blatant mistreatment of a chicken by a member of a third-party catching crew.

  • Vendor investigated and immediately terminated that individual’s employment with no eligibility for re-hire.
  • Vendor required all crew members to participate in welfare re-training

January 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Cromwell, KY, harvest plant recorded an equipment operator not following normal process for moving a bird onto a conveyor. 

Operator was disciplined with a first-offence write-up and all operators were trained the proper process.

January 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Rockingham, NC, plant recorded an associate exposing chickens to water spray from a hose used to clean the floor.

  • Associate was shown video and suspended.
  • Video was used to reinforce training for all associates working in that area.   

January 2018: Third-party video monitoring at our Cromwell, KY, plant identified opportunity to improve live bird handling.

Process was changed and all associates coached on the updated process.

January 2018: Associate at our Accomac, VA, plant was observed hanging birds with a rough, but not abusive, motion. 

Associate was warned; video was used in retraining the associate.

January 2018: A farmer raising chickens for us in North Carolina reported rough handling by a third-party catching crew.

Vendor went directly to the farm to address the situation, and, while there, retrained all catchers.

December 2017: While watching third-party catching at a farm in North Carolina, one of our managers observed a member of the catch crew improperly handling chickens, and the crew leader’s failure to take corrective action. 

Vendor removed both the catcher and the crew leader, and crew was retrained.

December 2017: Third-party video monitoring of live bird handling areas at our Rockingham, NC, harvest plant recorded an associate using his foot to forcibly move a chicken.

We terminated that individual’s employment and retrained all associates in the department.

October 2017: Third-party video monitoring of the live bird handling area at our Cromwell, KY harvest plant identified an associate intentionally mishandling a chicken.  

Associate was suspended

August 2017: Third-party animal welfare officer for a catching crew in North Carolina witnessed a catcher improperly loading chickens.

  • Vendor retrained and placed employee on notice.
  • Written documentation provided to crew leader.

August 2017: A farmer raising chickens for us in Delaware reported that the crew leader for a third-party catching crew was not properly observing catchers and did not respond to the farmers’ concerns about bird handling.

Vendor suspended crew leader and retrained crew members.

August 2017: Breeder farmer provided positive feedback on survey of live haul crew and also called flock advisor to compliment crews.

August 2017: A farmer receiving chicks from our Hurlock, MD, hatchery contacted the hatchery manager to provide positive feedback on the crew delivering birds to his farm.

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